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I was in a car accident recently. Can I file a claim for compensation?

To claim compensation in a personal injury accident case in Texas, you need to prove that the other party’s negligence caused the crash. Texas follows a modified form of comparative negligence. Years ago, if you were negligent at all in a way that contributed to the wreck, then you couldn’t make a recovery. Under the Texas comparative negligence scheme, if you were more than 51 percent responsible for that collision, you cannot collect damages. However, if you are 50 or less responsible for the accident, you can recover damages, but the final amount you receive is reduced by your percentage of fault. 

The law in Texas allows an injured individual to collect compensation after a crash, even if they were partly responsible for it. An example would be if you were hit by a distracted driver while turning a corner, but you were also texting at the same time, you may be deemed to be 40 percent at fault for causing the crash. Any compensation that may be awarded would then be reduced by 40 percent. 

To seek compensation the survivor, or plaintiff, has to prove the defendant, or another party failed to act with reasonable care and caused the accident. The following elements need to be present to prove this. They are:

  • Duty – this means the other party’s responsibility to act with care and due diligence to others stay safe. Drivers must pay attention to everything going on around them, and not drive while distracted.
  • The duty was breached – did the defendants’ act, or fail to act, as a reasonable person and take care in a similar situation? Examples of ways that a driver could breach his duty of care include running a red light, rear-ending someone, texting while driving or even watching a video while driving.
  • Cause – this means the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s breach of their duty was the direct cause of the damages. 
  • There are two types of causation in Texas, and both need to be proven. They are cause in fact and proximate cause. Cause in fact is when the plaintiff needs to prove the injuries sustained were in fact caused by the defendant’s actions.
  • Proximate cause means was it foreseeable that the defendant’s breach could cause an injury? For example, is it foreseeable that you could injury someone if you run a red light, watch a video while driving, etc.
  • Damages – the plaintiff must prove they suffered injuries and damages. That would include property damages, pain and suffering, and physical injuries.

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